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Marketing seems to be an enigma. Once you develop an understanding of it, it switches course and you’re back to square one. Technology, media, society, and trends all play an important role in developing and rewriting the marketing equation. Today, that equation has never been so volatile. The age of the Internet connected the world with instant information and now smartphone technology provides people with instant gratification. Inbound marketing is the solution to both of these needs; it provides specific, valuable information to users when they search for it, immediately.

Luckily, there is a science to inbound marketing. You’ll analyze data, keywords, tap into social-listening software, and essentially try to predict the future to ensure your content is captured by your market. So before you create your quarterly content calendar, we’ve provided the basics you’ll need to break the inbound marketing enigma.

Create Valuable Content, Avoid Clutter

While social media channels have specific algorithms that reward accounts with frequent activity, it’s important to keep in mind that quality content will always outperform quantity when it comes to search engine optimization and site referrals. Credible sources will not want to share information that is incomplete.

The content you create is a direct reflection of your brand: it’s the first impression to prospects who have stumbled upon your site while scrolling on social or searching Google.

Content that is high in value, such as free resources or content reviewed by your audience’s peers, is more likely to be backlinked or inbound linked (that’s when another webpage cites your blog post, resource or website on their page). This improves your site’s SEO score and ultimately leads to additional traffic.

Another way to create valuable inbound content is to partner with a creator or social media influencer. According to Twitter, 94% of creators are looking for brands that connect with their style and image and another 90% are looking for brands that they are passionate about. Partnerships with creators can drive an immediate boost in brand impressions and ultimately sales. Twitter saw that creator partnerships lead to:

  • +61% increase in brand favorability
  • +88% increase in purchase intent
  • +64% increase in recommendation intent


Focus on the Relationship

Inbound marketing is all about relationship development. You are attracting a new user to your site by giving them the knowledge they need. Think about meeting your first friend at work. You talked a few times before asking if they’d like to grab coffee or lunch, right? You’ll want to do the same with inbound marketing. Interact with the visitor a few times before asking them to make a transaction. Make your first impression as a credible, trustworthy source; a knowledge expert they can rely on and come back to when they have a question. Click-bait headlines and ad-heavy sites can create distrust, meaning you probably won’t have any repeat visitors.

So, you’ve gotten them to your site and made a solid first impression, what’s the next step? You’ll want to provide the user with another opportunity to interact. This can be as simple as providing relevant content to the topic they are already reading or asking to keep in touch, usually to receive similar content or a free resource. This establishes the relationship and allows you to nurture the lead until they are ready to make a purchase.


Analytics Lead to Strategy

In the first three months of launching your inaugural inbound marketing campaign, you’ll want to establish benchmarking data. And that data will become your best friend. You’ll learn to consult the dashboards every day to see how your inbound strategy is performing, and these insights will guide your entire creative team.

Website analytics will show exactly where your traffic is coming from and where they are going. With this information, you can determine which content is most interesting to your visitors and what channels are worth future investment. In the same tune, it will uncover what content should be avoided or subsequently, needs more attention. Key metrics to monitor include:

  • Website traffic
  • Time on Site/Bounce Rate
  • Top Keywords
  • Social Engagement
  • Social Conversations (Trending hashtags, your branded hashtags)
  • Unsubscribe rates
  • Conversion Rates

Successful Inbound Marketing Improves ROI

At this point, you’ve probably talked to your boss about why content marketing is the wave of the future, but she wants a better look at how it impacts the bottom line.  Here are where the truth bombs lie.

According to Forrester Research, “Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.” Think of how this impacts the overall company. Not only are you saving money in your marketing budget through inbound marketing and automation, but you’re also saving sales staff time. Your leads are now self-qualifying, which allows your sales staff to spend less time nurturing and more time following up with leads who are ready to purchase.

Entrepreneur found “in a 2013 survey, American inbound marketers spending more than $25,000 per year saved an average of 13 percent in overall cost per lead ($36 versus $41 with outbound).” While you may see an immediate return from paid channels, it’s more expensive to invest in pay-per-click ads than it is to invest in inbound marketing. Plus, you’ll exhaust your audience with the same ads without attracting new consumers.


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